No Woman No Try (2022) Movie Script

This is not just about rugby,
this is not just about the sport.
It's about women
and it's about women's sport,
and it's about putting us on a platform,
and knowing that we can do it.
I challenge anyone to say that
women's rugby is not good enough
and women are not enough,
'cause we are.
I'm still surprised,
in 2021 that people...
are surprised that women even play rugby.
I think women's rugby
is so far behind men's.
If you think about the time
at which more formal rugby started,
women really there were considered
so frail and weak.
People used to come and watch a game
because they wanted a laugh
at women rolling around in the mud.
So many people, men and women
believe women shouldn't be playing sport,
shouldn't be playing rugby.
Young girls growing up,
if they don't see female athletes
being celebrated
in the way male athletes are,
what is it going to say to them?
Despite a healthy
press interest back at Twickenham today,
there are no plans for the women's game
to go professional.
Apparently, we're second-class citizens,
and that's just how we're supposed
to be treated.
It's tough for female athletes.
They just wanna play a sport they love.
No matter what level it is,
you tend to find that
they'll face a lot of abuse for it,
whether it's at grass roots
or international level,
in person or online.
I actually push back really hard
against this idea of,
"Don't worry, it'll make you stronger,"
'cause it doesn't,
it stays with you forever.
So my career path, in brief,
is pretty much started playing rugby
at Medway Rugby Club in 2015.
Had my first game in December 2015,
and was playing for England
by November 2017,
less than two years later.
I'm Shaunagh Brown
and I currently play rugby for Harlequins
in England as a tighthead prop.
Before rugby,
I was very much into my athletics.
It was shot-put and discus
and, eventually, hammer throw as well.
And then my ultimate in the career was
competing for England
at the Commonwealth Games in 2014,
throwing a hammer, made it to the final.
That was what I had done before rugby.
But even within that I would do,
sort of, anything that came up
in terms of opportunity
to try different sports.
I tried Highland games,
Strong Woman competitions, boxing,
anything that was offered to me,
I would try and say yes to,
and I think that's part of why I've been
so successful so quickly in rugby.
It's just because
of my sporting background,
like, in having a great foundation
to go and do any sport.
From the Commonwealth Games,
I kind of was
on a bit of a low with it all
and, sort of, started falling
out of love with the sport,
and instead of just either carrying on
and being unhappy
or just stopping altogether,
I thought I'll look for a new challenge.
And literally, just looked up
my local rugby club.
Emailed them, said, "Can I come and play?"
And they went, "Yeah, of course, you can."
We train once a week, on a Tuesday.
"You're very welcome to come down."
And so I did, with my mum, my superfan.
I'm 25 years old and my mum's
introducing me, like,
"This is Shaunagh.
She's never played before, can she play?"
I'm like, "Mum, I'm 25,
I can do it myself."
But yeah, she was very much present
for my first session.
And even now,
Mum is my superwoman, superfan.
I suppose, looking back, she has
always been the person that she is.
When she was younger,
she always had male boyfriends.
Not boyfriends but male friends.
All her friends were always boys.
You know, and she played football,
she hung upside down on the monkeybars,
and would say,
"Don't make me wear a dress
"'cause I don't want to show my
knickers off," you know, stuff like that.
Growing up, would you agree
that I was a tomboy?
And what about... er...
like, transgender? Did you ever think
that I wanted to be a boy?
- No.
- No.
I used to get that constantly,
the question.
Not even a question, they'd say,
"Oh, you wanna be a boy."
'Cause of how I used to do my hair.
Do you remember,
how I used to do my hair with plaits?
It was always like,
"Are you a boy or a girl?"
I'm like, "I'm a girl."
But I had that when I was younger,
I was a tomboy.
Not as much as you,
'cause I grew out of mine.
I had my hair cut short,
shaved and everything.
And people used to think I was a boy.
I remember sitting on the bus once
and a group of people thought I was a boy.
I think there are probably
a lot of women in the world
that are naturally
not afraid of physicality,
not afraid of contact
and not afraid of being strong.
And there are very few places that...
women with that mentality
get to exist, but also excel,
and I think that's why rugby
resonated so deeply with me.
I'm Stef Evans,
I play for Bristol Bears women
and I founded Ruggette RFC.
It's exciting.
I started playing
when I was in high school.
I tried other sports,
I really wanted to be good at a sport,
and I just couldn't find one
that I felt good at.
There's also not a lot of contact sports
available for girls
or physical sports
available for girls in school.
When a friend of mine asked me to come
try out for rugby in grade ten,
I've never seen a rugby game before
in my entire life.
I didn't even know
what the ball looked like.
And I went to my first practice,
and there was an introductory element
of contact to it,
which really blew my mind.
I had no idea what the rules were,
still, and I was like, "Done, I'm in."
And I was like, alright, I'm gonna,
for the next little while,
I'm gonna, put everything
and to see how far I can take this.
And I'm gonna go until the point
where somebody says, you know...
You wanna leave the jersey and the game
as a whole better than you found it
and nobody is doing it
without a huge level of love
and determination and passion.
And I think, maybe we wouldn't
love it as much if the game wasn't as...
as empowering or as freeing,
as it is for a lot of us.
There's not that many opportunities
for the type of female
that excels in rugby to excel elsewhere
in the same way.
You know, we need the sport just as much
as the sport needs us.
For me, playing rugby
for Harlequins is all I know.
I had... My first club
was Medway Rugby Club,
which I was at for half a season
and ever since then
I've only ever known the Harlequins'
way of playing rugby.
My whole rugby life is Harlequins.
So for me, it is a special club to me
and I still hope to grow the relationship
as we continue in the future as well.
There are so many people that...
didn't realise that women
aren't professional actually.
So when I tell people, in 2021,
I'm a professional rugby player
and they go like, "That's cool."
As if it's completely normal
and then I, sort of, emphasise
there's only 28 of us English professional
women rugby players in the country.
They're like, "Wow, I thought
everyone was professional."
Especially, when you play
Premiership Rugby,
with Harlequins amongst the top ten clubs
in the country,
they just assume everyone's professional,
when actually so much of our team...
go to work.
The vast majority
of the people that play
in my league don't have agents,
we don't get paid.
You know, some get something,
some get expenses,
some get nothing, a lot get nothing.
And we don't have somebody
advocating for our...
you know, on behalf of us.
To play the Premiership, you have to,
obviously, give up a lot of things,
or manage a lot of things.
Most of the difficulty lies in scheduling,
because you have a huge workload
associated with training, with fitness
that has to be worked around or fit in
with the things you have to do
for your career.
Whether it's nine to fives,
or whether they're teachers,
whether they're soldiers, paramedics.
We have doctors,
we have dentists within our team
and still expecting to play
a professional level of rugby
whilst not being
professional rugby players.
You also have to block out
time for recovery,
which is usually the first thing
that you want to cut into
when you are trying to fit in
a lot of other things,
usually to do with your day job.
But It's really important in order
to keep yourself at a good enough standard
that you can perform in a way
you want to perform.
A lot of people that aren't intimately
acquainted with what it's like to do it
don't understand the level
of commitment required.
It can be physically demanding, of course,
and it can be mentally
and emotionally demanding.
But for me, anyway, the hardest part
is that validation process.
That's the part that I feel
the most taxed by.
Like you spend a lot of time having these
little micro conversations
justifying and explaining what you do
and why it takes so much time.
That can be, I think,
emotionally very draining.
It is an honour to be a professional
female in sport because, growing up,
sport has been and is my whole life.
And it's something I always wanted to do.
So it's an honour now
that I am a full-time
professional athlete
and it makes me proud to say out loud.
It does come with pressures and you are...
rightly so, expected to know a lot more
about rugby and the game and the team.
To work harder in the gym
and put more time in
and, sort of, be that
even within our team,
be that senior player, be that role model.
To enable other people
to, sort of, come in
and want to follow in your footsteps.
When I was a kid
and I was growing up,
it wasn't a very body-positive place.
Especially, for somebody
who didn't look like...
you know, what most people
thought a woman should look like.
Or a girl should look like.
I've always been a large person,
I've always been big,
and as a kid, I got bullied
really badly for it actually
all throughout elementary school
and into high school as well.
And being physical in sports in school
didn't really help
that whole dynamic, I guess.
It seems to give people who are already
looking for ways to attack me,
it seemed to to give them more ammunition.
Starting about six or seven,
until I went to high school at 13,
I had this group of boys
who used to follow me home from school
throwing rocks at me.
They used to tell me,
like, I should go kill myself
because I was fat and ugly.
So I felt...
for the majority of my time at school,
like pretty monstrous actually.
Like something was wrong
with the way I looked.
But then also,
something was wrong with the way I acted.
And probably also
why I felt so strongly about
finding a place where I could fit in
because I didn't feel like I had that.
I think that rugby...
Oh, I'm going to cry.
I think that rugby
was the first time I can remember
feeling like,
maybe the problem wasn't me.
Maybe the problem was that
I hadn't found a place
that I could exist the way that I was.
And rugby is inclusive
in so many different ways.
It celebrates a lot
of different body types,
especially at a recreational level,
it's something that doesn't discriminate,
like everybody is welcome.
There's just a lot of things
about the game itself of rugby that,
I think, create a community around it
that is extremely inclusive
and becomes welcoming to a lot of people
who have never, maybe felt that
in other arenas.
I think that my experience
is probably specific to a few key things.
That feeling, I think,
is probably pretty universal
for a lot of people who play it.
Growing up in terms of negativity,
I'd say I got teased at school a lot.
I would say it was constant
but from different people
and to the point where
I just thought that was normal.
Like if I get teased,
everyone must get teased,
the whole thing of not really being aware
of what's going on.
The fact that I was a bit different.
I'd get called a he-she,
a she-man, she-hulk.
Mum used to tell me,
"Ah, they're just jealous."
So that's all I kind of went with.
I thought, they're just jealous.
Again, the strong mum that I had
just to tell me that, like,
"You are good enough,
you can do what you want to do.
You can be different and it's OK."
There are not many big stories
I can tell you
where I was discriminated against.
But it's more just the subtleties
of constant society saying,
"Oh, you shouldn't be looking like that,
you shouldn't be talking like that,
you shouldn't be wearing that."
And just having a mum who just said,
"Do what you want.
Do what you want."
For me now, as I'm getting older,
I realise how powerful that was
and how much again Mum has done for me
and us, as her kids
and grandkids growing up now.
I love it now.
I'm like the odd one out so often.
I just enjoy reminding people
that we can be whoever we want to be.
We can do what we wanna do.
If you wanna be a girl and wear a dress,
that's fine.
If you wanna play rugby and wear make-up,
that's fine.
If you don't wanna wear makeup,
that's also fine.
It's just like doing what you want to do
because you want to do it, not because
your mum, your dad,
your friends, your teachers,
or society tells you to do it.
It's just about feeling comfortable
within yourself.
It's just a lot easier to live
how you want to live, in my opinion.
Up! Up! Up! Up!
Push it, you got it, you got it! Yay!
There aren't a whole lot of female
role models available in the media
that have any, sort of, diversity to them.
When we look at the type
of femininity that we still tend to
celebrate the most or tends to offer women
the most power in society.
We still see a lot of reality stars,
models, singers,
and there is absolutely nothing wrong
with portraying yourself like that
or by accessing power
by what you look like,
that's absolutely fine.
But that can't be the only way
that we offer women and girls
success in the world.
There have to be other options
because not everybody fits
in the same box.
And there are a lot
of women and girls that
could use role models that
don't all look the same.
Female rugby players
really kind of hit that nail on the head
because there is so much diversity
and body type and I think that
there is something
very powerful about them being athletes.
The arena of sport offers a way
to celebrate your body
and to value your body
and to love your body quite a lot.
But not for what it looks like,
but for what it can do.
I think it's very important
that we make it very obvious to women
and to young girls, especially,
that they can access power
with their bodies in a way that's not
tied to what it looks like.
That's, I think, a hugely powerful message
that women's rugby can communicate.
I think I love rugby
because of the community
that it creates for people.
As soon as you put your body on the line
for 22 other people,
you've made friends for life.
And that I wouldn't give up for the world.
I'm Victoria Rush.
I'm a rugby player and a producer.
Rugby's always been a hobby,
it's just been something I loved.
It's gone in and out of my life
for many years.
And then in 2020, during lockdown,
I realised how much I missed
the community of players.
It's actually the "I am Enough" movement
that really brought me back into the game.
I started "I am Enough"
by posting a photo of me in my kit,
in all the kits I'd ever played in
to represent who I am
and what rugby means to me
and to give other people the opportunity
to do the same.
It resonated with how
I'd always felt in sport,
that I wasn't enough as I am
to represent my team or myself.
The movement went so far and so wide,
we had players from London to Hong Kong,
Australia, U.S.A., all coming together
who cared about the sport
as much as I did.
And that moment for me made me realise
how much I needed to come back.
So when the Canterbury
Irish kit launch came out,
ah, and you saw the pictures...
For me, in my head, I'm just like, ugh...
And it doesn't come as a surprise.
They launched the kit
with male players
but to represent the female kit,
they used models.
And that really for all women in the game
represented everything that we faced.
And it was very much, oh...
like another campaign that's overlooked us
as women players.
It may not have been
a massive decision they made.
In fact, I know it wasn't.
It's just that lack of thought,
and lack of realising that...
it's probably not a good idea,
and that could come down to
who's making those decisions,
and that's a whole different conversation
as to who's in those board meetings,
who's got the power
to make those decisions.
It was good to Canterbury
to then be big enough and brave enough
to come out and apologise
because they could've done
what so many companies do and pretend that
it's not a thing and downplay it.
But they publicly apologised,
and then moved forward from that
and come out with the positive statements
as to how that gonna change the game
and how important brands are to rugby.
They've taken the hit
in that moment in time.
But actually, there's a lot of people
who would've sat back
and had to look at their selves
and had a look at what people
they're using to promote their products.
Like how many women's products
they have available even on their page
and now it's about looking forward
and looking for change.
2020, I think,
for all women's sport felt different.
Our games were given up a lot earlier,
a lot faster and a lot more easily.
There was this huge sense of loss
to women's sport and rugby, especially.
We thought with "I Am Enough" that
we had really made a significance change,
but roll forward, six months later,
and we weren't ready
for what was gonna happen next.
#icare started in response to
some trolling that was posted on
a Six Nations postponement
announcement that went out on Sky Sports.
It was very simply a post saying
that the Women's Six Nations
had been postponed.
There was no opinion or judgment
attached to that,
it was just communicating the fact
that postponement was happening.
It was really disappointing
that the Six Nations was postponed,
but I think the response
was just so much worse.
There was a huge amount
of people commenting on that post,
something to the lines of, "nobody cares"
or "this doesn't matter,"
or "nobody cares about women's rugby".
And I felt like it was very important
for us as a community to make it
abundantly clear to anybody
who was commenting on that post
but also anybody who was looking at
that post and going through the comments
that quite a lot of us do care
deeply about the sport.
I think #icare just showed the community
that we are still...
together, we're in this together.
To have hundreds,
if not thousands of people
tell you that they care too,
men and women.
It's a huge movement
and it's starting to really be proud of
and to not really forget
on the tougher days.
I also think it's really important
for anybody seeing it
especially young girls
who might come across that posts
or might see anything to do with #icare
as a movement, as a hashtag,
to know that the way that
they want to exist in sports
or as an athlete is something that a lot
of people care very deeply about.
And they might come across messaging
in the future that suggests otherwise,
but I hope that they come away
with their interaction with #icare
and with this movement knowing that
those messages are in the minimum
and the vast majority of us
and the vast majority of the world
at large wants them to be here,
and holds a place for them.
In the world of women's rugby,
I think, it feels a little bit uphill
all the time.
Day in and day out to some degree
validating why we try so hard at this,
why we put so much into it,
why it matters.
This sport gives me so much,
it gives everybody who plays it so much
and the idea that somebody wants to
go out of their way
to tell me that that doesn't matter,
I think, is not OK.
The whole reason that
it's possible for something
like the comments that
were being made to happen
is because, for a lot of those people,
that might be the first time they are
coming across women's rugby content
or the first time they're coming across
women's sport content in a significant way
on a channel that
they are used to following.
We're not creating enough content
around women's rugby,
we're not creating enough content around
women's sport, in general,
because if we were,
those thoughts wouldn't be happening
and they would not be expressed
on the internet.
When they postponed the Six Nations,
I felt a lot of hope
that having those dates
run separately to the men's tournament.
And a lot of excitement as well that
that could be a huge opportunity.
And I almost immediately felt,
"OK, you know, this is frustrating."
But there's a big advantage that
we could play with this
if we do it right as a community.
So Six Nations this year was...
it was different in a lot of ways,
some good, some bad.
The main reason why we played
in April as opposed to the usual slot
was because of COVID,
and it was a kind of the forced move.
But it actually turned out to be
a lot better for us
and we discovered that, like, we get
a lot more media attention around it.
We're now not in a shadow of the men,
we have the month of April
to do our Six Nations.
And actually,
when you speak to journalists,
they prefer it as well,
and people in the media,
because they don't have to write about
three rugby games
'cause you've also got
the under-20 men's as well.
They could just write about
one rugby game a week
and it's just that constant flow of rugby
and you don't joke about three buses...
waiting ages for a bus and then
three buses come along at once.
It's no good to have all three buses...
You can't get on all three buses,
you can only get on one at a time,
so why not spread them out.
We're in 2021, you still can't access
the Allianz Premier 15s easily.
Unless you're a die-hard fan
willing to persevere through
all sorts of forms and websites,
it's actually quite difficult to stream
what you wanna watch.
And that's going to massively inhibit
young kids coming and finding the game
and learning about rugby
and learning about women's rugby.
There are so many amazing players
that they don't get to see,
that it's a loss,
if anything, to the game.
This is part of the problem,
is you have to look for it.
It is out there sometimes,
but you have to go lookin'.
And even when you know
what you're looking for,
again, we hear stories from people,
"I couldn't find a live stream."
"The website wasn't working."
"I had to sign my life
away to, sort of, get it."
The Premiership is not televised yet.
In all honesty, I don't think it's ready,
in terms of a product, to go on TV,
because we're not
all professional players.
We can go and win games
by like 40 or 50-nil sometimes
and I'm not sure people seeing that
is gonna grow the game.
Getting it more accessible,
but also improving the product
for people to want to watch it
rather than having to go looking for it.
We're doing as much
as we can in the sport.
There's always more to do.
And I would like to think I do my bit,
like having other people do
their bit as well.
As long as we all do our bit
to promote the sport.
There are so many things
in the game, that need to change
but the one thing I think we all agree on
is that we need a kit for women,
so why are still playing in men's kit?
It doesn't fit and it doesn't work for us.
The reason that
it's so, in my opinion,
inappropriate for women to wear
men's shorts to play and train in
is that you'll end up with
all sorts of rubbing.
You'll have to be rolling your shorts up
to have them fit.
I've had repetitive hip flex or strain
from scrumming in men's shorts,
something that has to be managed
with a physio
because of wearing men's shorts.
There is definitely
an aesthetic component to it
but the largest component of it
is performance based.
The shorts are probably
the thing that most people,
most women, will identify
with as being like
the catalyst, the hardest thing to solve
to play rugby in.
I had a lot of conversations
with male players
or people that are in positions
of purchasing
for their club about kit.
And they'll usually say,
"Oh, we would really love
to have women's kit,
we would really love that."
And if you ask them,
they would absolutely tell you
that they love their women's programme
and I believe that they do.
But immediately,
on the other side of that,
they will say, "Well, we have to buy
one pair of shorts."
There will be a financial
or economical reason
that they have to purchase
one short for the entire club.
My standard response to that is,
"OK, well, for the last 75-ish years,"
you've done that it that way
with men's kit,
why don't, for next year,
why don't we just do the exact same thing?
We'll buy one short
and we'll just buy women's shorts
and the men can figure out,
do the same thing.
They can do their sizechart and be like,
'OK, I would be a whatever, '
"and we'll just, like, for one year."
And they always laugh.
They always laugh, they snort,
"That would be ridiculous."
And I'm like, "So you agree?"
It sounds a bit dramatic to say
it makes you feel unwanted,
but kind of something like that.
It's a mixed message of, like,
"Come into this community"
and play this sport, we want you here.
"But we make nothing
for you to do the sport in."
I started Ruggette because,
well, selfishly I didn't have shorts
that I felt comfortable playing in
and I wanted to solve that problem
for myself, I guess.
This is a classic femfit short.
It's our best-selling short,
we have this in multiple fabrics now.
We have it in a ton of colours,
a ton of fabrics,
a ton of finishing options.
We do custom stuff for teams.
I don't think about what it feels like
to play in them
'cause I forget that I'm wearing them
because I don't have to be
thinking about what I'm wearing.
And that was the biggest...
annoyance, previously
wearing men's shorts,
being pulled away mentally
from what you're doing.
To think about like,
"This is uncomfortable."
I'm adjusting, I'm adjusting my shorts,
you're pulling your shorts down,
you're pulling your shorts up,
you're re-rolling the waist,
you might not even realise how often
you are doing it until you're not.
The fact that you can
just not have that whole
mental process happen
is quite freeing, really,
'cause you can focus on what
you're supposed to be doing,
which is playing a sport.
Regardless of the level that you play at,
you know,
we all deserve to have the experience
of feeling like
the kit that we're playing the sport in
can keep up with what we're doing.
Boots to me is not something
I recognise as being a problem as a woman
because I wear size 8...
size 8s and size 9s,
which is a common men's size,
so I don't have a problem.
But then our smaller players,
who are size 4, 5, and 6s,
they have no choice
but to wear children's boots.
And some say, "It's only a pair of boots."
There's a difference.
Even physically,
how many studs are in there, etcetera.
Why should women have to be made to go
to children's section to buy their boots?
Whilst there's still
a lot of work to be done,
and as far as making sure that
the women's game is invested
in the same way as the men's
and that trying to narrow the gaps between
countries that have more and countries
that have less for their programmes.
We're far from done, as far as achieving
some sort of equality in rugby.
However, that said, we've also never seen
this much investment in the women's game,
we've never seen this many platforms
delivering content for the women's game.
We've also never, before now
I have never seen this many supporters
wanting to consume that content
and asking for it if it doesn't exist.
That's a huge change in women's rugby
as a whole.
It's just about advertising
role models,
showing different faces,
showing different body sizes,
body shapes, different mindsets.
Hi. I'm Zainab Alema, aka "The Bulldozer."
I'm a neonatal nurse by profession
and a rugby player by passion
and I've won Sunday Times
Grassroots Sportswoman of the Year 2020
and I love a cheeky Earl Grey.
I got into rugby at the age of 14.
So I was at high school
and my PE teacher said,
"Right, girls, we're gonna do rugby today
as a session."
And I was like, yes, bring it on.
So we had a rugby session
and I absolutely fell in love.
Like the moment I touched that rugby ball,
it was just like magic.
Running through people.
Running with the ball.
It was amazing.
I went into rugby because I loved it,
'cause I just enjoyed it.
When I got to uni,
I just, sort of, took a step back
and was like, "OK."
First of all, where are all
the other Black girls?
Second of all,
I'm the only Muslim on my team.
Where are the people that look like me?
You know. And I felt really isolated.
So going to uni was a massive eye-opener
and it really showed me the reality
of the kind of space that I'm in.
I felt like I didn't fit in,
especially in regards to
the drinking aspect.
You know, rugby is a very...
the culture of rugby,
alcohol's really big, you know.
And, being a Muslim girl
that doesn't drink, I found myself...
really in awkward positions.
So there actually was a point
in my rugby journey where I felt like...
It was actually after uni.
So having those experiences, I thought,
I don't know if I want
to go back to rugby.
And I thought,
actually let me check
in the rugby rule book
to see if they actually allow
women to wear hijab,
to wear the head scarf because my faith
is a big part of me
and my identity and I wanted to know
if rugby, you know, accepted that.
So I went over the rule book,
just scanning through the section,
the laws about clothing.
It was there in black and white
in the rugby rule book
that I could wear a head scarf
and play rugby.
And that for me was like, oh...
see, like, this is it.
Like, you belong in rugby.
This is rugby telling you you're welcome.
And I just took that and ran with it
and actually it showed in the way I play.
My confidence just spiked up,
like, "You've got this."
There are so many people
that would've automatically assumed that,
"I wear hijab. I can't play rugby,"
when that's not the case.
It's just sometimes you just need
that little reminder that,
"Oh," again, like,
"if she can do it, I can do it."
Visibility is major. Absolutely major.
I think women in general,
when you have powerful role models,
if a young girl switches on a TV and sees
another woman doing something they love,
that's representation, that's visibility
and through that you're
gonna get more people
wanting to join sport
and wanting to follow their passions.
Change in perceptions,
I think, is a big one.
I've said to people, I didn't feel like
I belonged in rugby.
That's sort of my initial force.
That perception,
we can't be having that, you know.
But now, I can comfortably say
as a Black Muslim woman,
I belong in rugby.
One thing that I think we're all starting
to realise is that male allies
can have such a huge impact
on women's sport.
Male allies in the women's game
are hugely important
and always welcome and, like I say,
a giant like Ugo Monye
being a very active ally
for the women's game is huge
because he's a kind of person,
no matter what he's talking about,
people sit up and listen.
So I'm Ugo Monye, a former rugby player,
here at Harlequins for 14 years.
Also played for England
and the British and Irish Lions.
It's not an understatement to say that
that rugby changed my life,
and we don't have enough time
to get into all those details,
but it generally did.
My daughters are four and one and a half,
or just about.
I hope that by the age when they're able
to make their own decisions,
become teenagers and get exposed to
lots of different sports
that they route into,
whether it's rugby, tennis, football,
whatever it is,
I just hope they have
a positive experience.
We have the great game, but if there's
anything I can do to help better it,
to help promote it,
to help get more visibility, more eyes,
inspire people to get involved in it
in any way, then,
yeah, I definitely want to be that guy.
It's easy to assume
that only girls follow us.
But actually boys and men follow us, too.
And it's becoming a bit more socially
acceptable for men
to come up to us and say,
I think sometimes, they might feel
a bit like, "Ooh, it's a bit weird,"
like, following women's sport as a man
but it's becoming
a lot more normal, thankfully.
The most important thing I would like
any male associated with sport
or with rugby
to know off the bat is that their voices
are needed in this conversation.
I also think that the way the world
works right now,
with the way our social media
algorithms work, for example,
a lot of people are existing in bubbles
that never ever talk about
or discuss women's rugby.
And I can shout as much as I want
and they will never hear me.
If a male player or a male administrator
or just a male
who comes across this
and understands the significance of it,
if they lend their voice
to the conversation,
those are ripples on a completely
different pond that I can't reach.
I don't think it's overcomplicated.
But I do think because we live in this
"every time you speak up or something,
you are woke", I think that...
tends to then be a barrier to men
speaking out 'cause they don't want to be
called that. I've been called it.
Whatever, like, brush it off.
Obviously, I would never ask anybody
to say anything that
they didn't believe in.
I think it's important that
the male voices that we hear
in this conversation are genuine
and that they mean what they say because,
you know, we don't need any more posturing
in this community,
that's for sure.
But it's important to understand
that not only do we welcome them
into this conversation,
but we need them, in order to reach places
that we can't reach,
no matter how much we try.
Some person who's really helped me
along this journey
has been Sue Anstiss,
and she is a phenomenal human being.
She is also a force of nature.
And I love her relentless attitude.
She puts women's sport
front and centre of every agenda.
She's been a great ally to myself
in order for me to hopefully be
her best male ally can for women's rugby.
She's a boss.
How lovely. Oh!
It often surprises
and slightly disappoints me
that we don't see more professional
footballers and rugby players and so on
perhaps calling out the negativity
we see on social media.
Having someone re-tweet
some content or a quote
actually can be hugely powerful
in terms of changing perceptions
and those men who are in that
well-respected positions actually can make
a massive difference in women's sport.
Having Sue involved in this documentary
was almost a no-brainer.
She needs no introduction.
She's an absolute power house
of women's sport
and she really understands
what has happened in other sports
that can translate so well into rugby.
In terms of investment in women's sport,
I think in the past, it's been a bit
of a worthy, something we ought to do,
it's the right thing to do
and more and more sponsors announcing
there's huge commercial value
to be investing in women's sport.
And I think sometimes,
we feel that fans in women's sport
are just women. But it's not just women
that watch women's sport,
men and women watch.
However, there is also this opportunity
to tap in to a huge fanbase
that perhaps hasn't followed
much sport in the past,
which is women and families
and, you know, women make up 70, 80%
of decision making
in terms of purchases
that are made within the home.
So, women, are really powerful.
So, semi-final week.
Last session before
the semi-final on Saturday.
And we get the pleasure of training
at the Stoop tonight,
which is unusual for us.
But everyone loves being at the Stoop
all the time.
So it's good. It'll be like
a nice captain's run kind of feel to it
and we'll know exactly
what to expect come Saturday.
- Hello.
- Yeah.
Look, Zac. Do you want to be on camera?
Where are you?
A camera is filming me today.
You're on camera.
So this is the best thing about anyone
coming to the Stoop.
You walk through the gate...
and you see my face.
Let's get closer.
When I had more hair, as well.
Watch, like this.
It's knockout stages.
So we win. We have another week of a game.
If we don't win. That's it.
Our season's done.
So there's a sort
of a tenseness to the camp.
But, at the same time,
you want to be jovial.
You don't wanna have too many
big changes because...
actually what we've done throughout
the season has clearly worked
because it's got us there
in the first place.
So, yes, we're training
for Saturday, but also,
as long as we train well for Saturday,
we then have another Saturday
on our hands,
which will be an even bigger game.
Let's go!
On three.
- One, two, three.
- Quins!
Show time.
I wanna be the best man ally I can be
for women's game so...
I'm listening, I'm learning, erm...
And I'm trying to do my bit.
But, it's important to us,
people like you,
who are the forefront of the game,
how can I help and how can
other male allies really help
support the women's game?
I think the most basic form
of help is just
remembering that social media
is the ultimate and...
Like re-tweet and stuff or...
Just saying you're watching the game or,
even if you're not watching it,
like, say where people can watch it,
talk about individual players
and having conversations about rugby
and interchanging both of them, like,
swapping in players and not talking about
necessarily the men's team
or the women's team,
like, it's just talking about rugby.
And then when you get
to the higher levels, like,
people like yourself who are really, like,
in that rugby world, is come and...
not only come and watch us play
but come and watch us train,
come and have conversations with us, like,
you'll learn so much about,
like, the good side of us and the team
and the stories, like.
- So many people have full-time jobs.
- That's the best bit.
Yeah, so many people have full-time jobs
and you'll be surprised, like,
someone just finished a nine-hour shift
and has come straight to training.
And you'll think, "Oh, why are
these people late to a meeting?"
This is disgraceful, like, you're players,
you should be on time for meetings."
But, actually, you'll find out
they've just got straight on the M25
after a nine-hour shift.
And they've had a chance
to eat a sandwich on the way
and they've got three minutes
to get changed into kit and be in a meet.
And you're like, oh, OK,
maybe I understand
why it's a bit more relaxed around timings
and bits like that.
I know for a fact that if I had to work
a full-time job,
nine-hour shifts and train,
I would never have achieved
the small things that I did in my career.
There's just no way.
I wouldn't be able to do the both.
We know where the men's game's at.
Financially, it's...
a lot greater than the women's game.
It's been professional for over 26 years,
so some of the structures
that we have within our game are...
they're deep rooted and...
give us a great platform.
But it's how you can use that platform
to be able to amplify
the other part of our game,
which is the women's game.
I know loads of lads who have little girls
who might wanna be rugby players.
Think about them and just step up
and just say something.
Being inactive is...
I just don't think is an option anymore.
So, since we've last spoken
I've decided to go on a journey
and that end goal is to play for England
and essentially make history
in being the first Muslim woman
to play for England.
I put this picture up on social media
and I just got people talking, like,
would this be strange to see someone,
you know, a Muslim woman play for England?
I was so scared to tell people
because I was scared of what they'll say.
I'm currently at Barnes
but I'm moving to Richmond.
So, Richmond play at the championship,
that's one above where
I currently play for Barnes.
Sometimes I do sit down and think,
"What have I done?
I just told the world that I..."
But I'm not putting pressure on myself,
if I'm honest with you,
and the impact that it's having,
just me saying I wanna play for England...
The impact that it's having is incredible.
On my page, I have a tab called "Support"
and this is where I essentially store
all of the messages
of support on my social media.
And it helps me get through, you know,
when I'm feeling a bit down,
when I feel a bit deflated,
I go through the messages
of people just being so lovely.
For some, you know, people saying,
"Get those reps in, that's all it is."
That's Simi from Bristol Bears.
She's a massive support.
"Just wanted to say you are smashing it,
keep doing what you're doing."
"Zee, you're looking
in shape, girl. Love it."
"Keep going, your journey is going
to be something special,
I can see it."
Things like that is just awesome.
"I'm living for this journey, see.
When you win, I feel like I win,
keep grinding."
Can you imagine someone telling you, like,
they're winning
because you're winning? Like...
It's just... it's just...
I can't even believe it.
World Rugby getting in there saying,
"Keep doing what you're doing, you...
you are an amazing inspiration
to so many."
So, I've got the support of World Rugby.
You know, with all
the misogynistic comments on social media,
the downside I guess of
being a female athlete
where you get people just commenting
and being really nasty.
Can you imagine, like,
if those comments...
all of those comments
were actually positive comments.
I'd make such a massive impact
to just women's sport in general.
That first cup I get is not for me,
it's literally for everybody
that ever didn't really fit in.
Anyone that ever felt like
they weren't good enough
or they couldn't follow their dreams.
So many odds I guess are against me,
in general, not just for my identity
but just in general.
And for me to get there, if I can do it
then anyone can, like anyone can.
All of the women that play for England,
they all inspire me.
Just to be rubbing shoulders with them
would be absolutely amazing.
Would be absolute dream come true.
In terms of the last year,
and the impact of COVID,
I think at the beginning,
there was this huge fear
that... Well, women's sport did stop
much faster than men's sport.
There wasn't an opportunity to play,
there wasn't coverage.
There was the worry that we would lose
all that incredible momentum
we've built up over the last decade.
But, actually, it stimulated loads
of conversation
around women's sport and why it matters
and funding and investment.
If you looked at just the numbers,
the size of the women's rugby market,
how quickly it's grown
over the last couple of years,
how many people play.
If you could pitch that to an investor
without having the words
"women" or "rugby" in it,
if you just showed them the numbers,
the market reach, the growth potential,
anybody with any sense of business
would invest in it,
but the second that you add in
"women's rugby" to it or "women's sport",
then you get all the hesitancy
and that's what I find really confusing.
Because the numbers don't suggest
that it's a bad investment.
So if the numbers aren't
what's bothering you,
then it's the women's rugby part
that's bothering you.
And that's not a business thing,
that's a sexism thing.
Women's rugby and women's sport
is a huge market
with untapped growth potential.
Nobody is taking full advantage
of the market value of female players.
Not even close.
And the numbers in our game suggest that,
at bare minimum,
there's 2.4 million people
who want to watch our games,
so the fact that they're not being
put out there in a huge way,
from a business perspective,
is very confusing.
Summing up the Premier Final
in a sentence?
That's a task in itself.
It's just emotional.
Leading up to it, like,
it was a build up of emotion
and I almost felt like we should've sung
the National Anthem first.
It was that kind of...
that's how much it meant to all of us.
Fans were in. Like, take it all in.
For me, sport is about those moments
and literally looking around the stadium
and just seeing how many people
you're making happy that day.
And now please welcome
Harlequin's women.
When that first whistle goes,
that's it. We're at war.
There's no... there is some smiling
but, you know,
it's about what happens next
and about continuing it and sticking to
what we've done
for the whole year in training.
Rachel Burford went down,
I think, sort of, about 12-13 minutes in
and she rarely goes down.
But if she does go down,
nine out of ten times
she gets up, like, maybe fully strapped up
and actually, she did get back up
and it was like a phew!
But then, she went down again like,
literally a few seconds later.
And what turned out to be like...
what kept her off,
not only for the whole game,
but then out for a few months
as well with surgery.
She is an inspiration.
I don't use it that often, that word.
But she is an inspiration.
It sort of took us...
it took us by surprise, obviously,
because it's an injury
but for it to happen so early
and it was a kind of
emergency stations, like,
where do we go from here?
After the semifinal, I...
It was about 11:30 at night,
phone went... Ugo Monye.
And it's like a two and half minute
voice note.
He just goes,
"So, I've watched the semi-final again."
I've watched it a few times and now I'm
ready to give you an analysis on it.
And basically, you need to stop passing
the ball.
"All they need from you is to carry."
And I'm like, right, this is Ugo Monye.
England Sevens and 15s,
British and Irish Lions.
He's telling me to carry.
I'm just gonna carry
and I love it as well.
So, he's telling me to do it.
Don't pass too much, just carry.
That game was just about
everyone doing their strengths
and not trying to do too much fancy stuff
and doing outside of that
because that's how we were gonna win
and that's how we did win.
Final whistle went.
I started crying instantly.
Anyone... and then like hugging everyone
and anyone that come up to me.
Our communications officer
came over to us.
He went, "Mate, you've just won
Player of the Match," and I went, "Oooh!"
I started all over again, like more tears
and I was crying.
As I walked over to that microphone,
I didn't know that I was gonna say that.
I didn't, like...
I didn't plan it or anything. It's just...
It's just the thoughts that are
in my head, all day, every day.
Shaunagh, a huge congratulations,
erm, on the club's first ever
Premier 15s title.
You've done it
on the third time of asking.
What does that mean to you personally?
Well, I'm crying, so it must mean a lot
'cause I don't really cry.
But it's tears of happiness and...
my mum is in the crowd
and she wasn't gonna come,
and I'm so glad that she did.
Ah, Shaunagh, it's lovely
to see that emotion.
It's lovely to see how much
it means and I guess,
you know, this club has walked away
from two consecutive finals
as runners up.
So, does this mean even more
because of that disappointment?
Yeah. As I say, third time lucky.
But there was no luck
involved in today at all.
It's hard work all season.
Last week, we thought we put on
a performance of our season.
But clearly, we've come out
and done it again.
I'm so proud of everyone and no individual
should be singled out
because we're such a team
and I can't wait to be
with the girls again.
What does this mean to you guys
as players and the club as a whole?
This is not just about rugby.
This is not just about the sport.
It's about women
and it's about women's sport.
And it's about putting us on a platform
and knowing that we can do it.
And we have come out and put on
an international standard of rugby
in front of fans and this is
what rugby should be, week in, week out.
Men or women's. We're here
and I challenge anyone to say that
women's rugby is not good enough
and women are not good enough,
'cause we are.
Speaking to some rugby girls
I've not seen in a while
and she said, "I'm so glad
that you said it."
And it's everything
I've ever wanted to say,
but just not had the guts
to say it out loud.
I've never had so much attention,
like media attention,
social media, my own phone.
It just went crazy from that interview.
And the amount of games
I played for England.
We've won three Grand Slams
and nobody cared about that
as much as they cared about
just a few sentences I said at the end
of a really good game of rugby.
And the amount of grown men
had said, "I cried."
You made me cry
for the first time in ten years.
I was watching it and my wife was like,
"'What are you doing? Come and watch it.'
Then they all started crying."
In my head, I'm still
just a kid from Peckham.
Just having a go at throwing
an egg around on a bit of grass.
But it's just that if I can make
a change to their life
just by being there or just by playing,
that's my why, that's why I do it.
One... Again, one, two, three.
One more. One, two, three.
Shall we talk about the family
group chat after the game?
What happened?
Erm, I don't know.
I got one sentence. "Well done, Shaunagh."
And that was it and they all started
talking about new potatoes.
Who said, "Well done"?
I did. I said, "Well done, Shaunagh."
And then Anna said, "Have you got
any new potatoes left?"
We like to keep her down to earth,
you know.
Keep her feet firmly on the ground.
She said, "I've just got Player
of the Match and we won the cup."
And you're worried about potatoes."
I do get a lot of people
saying to me,
"Oh, you must be so proud," you know.
Of course I am. You know,
what more can I say? I am proud.
I suppose other people see her
very differently to me
and it is like that,
"Oh, you must be so proud.
You know, she has achieved so much."
Yes, I'm proud. I'll be proud of her
no matter what she'd done.
But, you know, I'm very proud of her.
But she's still Shaunagh
and she always will be.
I liked the way you spoke.
You know, you were very...
- Passionate.
- Passionate. Yeah. Controlled, yeah.
- Controlled?!
- Controlled?!
I was in tears, Granddad.
I think the fact that
she's doing it for women
is the best thing, because...
if it wasn't rugby,
it may be something else,
'cause she's always been
doing jobs that women don't like,
gas engineer, firefighter.
So she's been like that for a long time
and that inspiration, she just...
she oozes it, you know, she just...
She just corrects me every time.
If I refer to the dog as a "he". "She!"
Or if I say, "Where's the workman, today?"
"Who says it's a workman?"
It's not that it's on her mind
all the time, but she is aware
that women are equal to men.
You know, so she reminds me
of it every single day.
How do you guys feel
about the World Cup next year,
the fact that it's postponed?
Are you looking forward to it?
You gonna come watch?
Hoping I'll be in the team?
What are our thoughts?
Well, I hope you're in the team,
'cause I intend on going there.
I think the achievements she would like
at this moment in time in rugby
is to play in the World Cup.
Yeah, she would love to do that
and I would love her to do that.
If she could get into that team
for the World Cup
that would be her, sort of,
pinnacle of her career in rugby, I think.
Never before in the history
of women's rugby
have we seen this many people willing
to lend their voices to the discussion,
willing to take on roles
in growing the game
and putting so much time into it.
But also, you know, we've never seen
this many people
wanting to support the games,
wanting to consume the content we put out.
Across the decades,
we've thought this is gonna be the moment,
but I really do feel it's now.
I think just too much has happened
across too many sports for us not to
see this momentous growth keep going.
And it's not just in terms
of the visibility of women's sport
but also investment
and funding and sponsorship
and governance and women in
key board roles and coaches and officials.
It's women across sport,
so I really do feel now is the time.
It could make a massive difference to have
a fully professional Allianz Premier 15s.
We kind of celebrate these
amazing female athletes
that hold down three jobs
and their frontline NHS workers and...
That's all fine, but the only reason
they're doing three jobs
and also play rugby
is because they're not being paid
to play professionally
in the way that men are.
Whilst, it is amazing that they
do all this, but they won't need to
because they'll be able to be paid
professionally to do the job,
and then when they are, we'll just see
the increase in standards of play
which we've already witnessed
in the last five years.
But when women can actually play full-time
and they're not trying to work full-time,
and then train in the evening
and, you know, play a couple times a week,
we'll see that increase
in the quality of play,
equalizing across the teams as well,
so, much more competition.
There's been an enormous amount
of momentum for the women's game.
Zee is now a Canterbury Ambassador,
and I truly believe
that there's something to do
with the movements that we've had
over the last few years.
But now we gotta make sure that we carry
the momentum we have forwards with us.
We keep our voices heard
and we make sure that that doesn't change.
You could Tweet about it.
You could celebrate their moments,
you could celebrate their victories.
You could point people in the direction
of where they can watch it.
That's a simple thing,
which takes not a lot of time,
certainly doesn't cost any money.
Connect with them, talk to them.
Show them some love,
show them some support.
The more that you can watch
and like and support,
and talk about it in a public way,
the content relating to women's rugby,
and to teams you like.
That's a bigger action
than you might realise.
And it has knock-on effects
in a number of different ways
but it helps people
that are looking at our sports
from an investment perspective.
It helps them believe
that it matters to other people.
There are moments
where it's really difficult
and there are definitely times
that you're so tired, you don't...
you struggle to find a reason
why you're doing all this.
And in those moments, I think a lot about
the concept of leaving the jersey better
than you found it
for the next generation, like I...
grew up not ever thinking that
there would be any professional
women's sports in any capacity,
much less for rugby.
There are so many young girls watching
our games, following us on social media,
who are going to grow up knowing that
this is a possibility for them,
and knowing that this is something
that they could do
and they could make a career out of.
And that's what keeps me going
when I'm struggling to find a reason to.
I think it's the hope that what I'm doing
is going to make things better
for the next generation.
It's got to come in investment
and investment is the word it is,
it's not throwing money at a situation,
or throwing money down a drain,
it's an investment.
And in so many
financial situations in life,
when you invest in,
whether it's a product,
or a service or a person,
or property... like, you don't get
your money back straight away.
You don't get your money back
in five or ten years.
You get your money back
in the 20, 25 years-plus slot.
So it's about companies now realising
that it's a good time to invest
in women's rugby
and accept that they're not going to get
their returns anytime soon.
But number one,
it's the right thing to do,
and number two, they will get it...
it will be...
in 25 years,
when we are fully professional
as a sport, as a Premier 15s...
that people will look back and go, "Oh..."
I'm so glad that this company
put the money in at this point
because that's now the reason
the game is so good.
And if you put your money
where your mouth is,
us, as women,
we'll show you we are worthy,
as we always do.
Mic drop!
- I can do the snappy thing now.
- OK.
Take one.
Oh! This is technical stuff. Ooh!
- Action!
- I don't get the clicky board!
The only reason I did this documentary
is just to be the person that goes...
But now I'm not. No.
And if you want to hit record
'cause obviously that's...
- Oh, it's recording.
- I'm already recording.
Oh, sorry, mate.
I'll do my Beyonc bit in a minute.